I recently needed to figure out what happens when werewolves and vampires come up against each other, since I DM a game where one of the characters has been turned into a werewolf and I was about to add a vampire into the mix. There was a decent chance that the two would get into it together (they did). I wanted to be ready for what could/should happen. I discovered that it is a bit complicated, so I am going to add the situation to my blog to explain what I discovered and why it works the way that it does.
How do werewolves (or other lycanthropes) create new werewolves?
According to the Monster Manual (page 206), lycanthropes can create new lycanthropes in one of two ways. The first way is to give birth as a lycanthrope. These “natural born” lycanthropes, with either one or two lycanthrope parents, can only be cured of their lycanthropy by the use of a Wish spell. The second way a lycanthrope can create another lycanthrope is by biting a humanoid. If a humanoid is bitten by a lycanthrope, they must succeed on a Constitution saving throw or they will become a lycanthrope themselves. A Remove Curse spell will remove the lycanthropy from these creatures.
How do vampires create new vampires?
Unlike lycanthropes, there is nothing in the literature (that I could find) about vampires giving birth. In the Monster Manual (page 295), vampires have a bite attack which deals 1d6+4 piercing damage as well as 3d6 necrotic damage, and the target’s hit point maximum is reduced by the amount of necrotic damage taken, while the vampire’s hit points increase by that amount. If the target’s maximum hit points are reduced to 0, the target dies. If the target dies in this way, is a humanoid, and is buried in the ground, the target will rise as a vampire spawn the following night. Should the vampire allow the vampire spawn to drink some of its own blood, then the vampire spawn will become a vampire.
Can werewolves turn a vampire into a werewolf?
This one is easy: No. Werewolves can only turn humanoids into werewolves. Vampires are undead, so they don’t qualify. Dungeons and Dragons writer Chris Perkins covered this in a tweet.
Can a vampire turn a werewolf into a vampire?
This one is also easy, but it’s not as straightforward as it could be. Vampires can turn werewolves into vampires, because werewolves are humanoids. Someone was skeptical so he asked Chris Perkins, who responded in a follow-up tweet to the last one. It’s a challenge to turn a werewolf into a vampire though. The werewolf is immune to piercing damage. There is no reason to assume that the vampire’s teeth are magical. As a result, when the vampire attacks the werewolf, the only damage the werewolf will take from a successful attack will be the necrotic damage, so it is likely to be a long fight. The werewolf will be losing hit points very slowly due to its damage immunities. The vampire will be losing hit points slightly faster due to damage resistances, but will also be regaining hit points when the vampire drains necrotic damage from the werewolf. When the player character in my party took on the vampire the werewolf won, but it was a bit touch and go for a while.
What happens when a werewolf turns into a vampire?
This is a challenging one. Let’s run through an example of what happens when a human becomes first a werewolf, and then later a vampire.
First of all, let’s build a human, no class in particular, who has 13 for every ability score, just to keep things simple. When this generic human (let’s call him Eric) gets bitten by a werewolf, according to the Monster Manual (page 207) Eric will gain the werewolf’s speed of 40 feet while in wolf form, is immune to damage from bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagic weapons which aren’t silvered, gains the werewolf’s traits (shapechanging & keen hearing and smell), gains the werewolf’s actions (multiattack, bite, claws, and spear actions), gains the weapon proficiencies of the werewolf, has a STR of 15 if his STR isn’t already higher, gains +1 to AC while in wolf or hybrid form from natural armor, and attack and damage rolls are based on STR. This means that Eric’s STR is now 15 and he has picked up a bunch of new, fancy werewolf features.
Next, Eric gets turned into a vampire. As with the transformation into a werewolf, the character gains lots of vampire stuff but doesn’t really lose much. New vampires get vampire damage resistances (most of which Eric already has as immunities, but he does gain resistance to necrotic damage and to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage from silvered weapons), get darkvision to 120 feet, get some more cool shapechanger options, get the vampire’s legendary resistances, legendary actions, misty escape, regeneration, spider climb, multiattacks, unarmed strikes, bites, charm, and children of the night ability. In addition, the character’s STR, DEX, and CON become 18 if they aren’t already higher. This means that Eric now has an 18 in those 3 stats, as well as all of the special superpowers of both a werewolf AND a vampire combined. Mind you, Eric also picks up a few vampire weaknesses, but they are pretty minor compared to all the cool stuff Eric has picked up from the mix of lycanthropy and vampirism. Assuming that being a dead dog isn’t going to bum Eric out too much. If you are looking for a super nasty big bad to throw at a party, maybe choose a spellcaster with a high INT/WIS/CHA and turn him into a werewolf/vampire. Nobody will be expecting it, and it will have some seriously confusing mixes of features which should keep everyone guessing and panicking for some time. It would be pretty overpowered though, so be sure your party is ready for it.